NEWS
10/23/2015 18:04 EDT | Updated 10/23/2016 01:12 EDT

Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman relishes the intensity of playoff baseball

KANSAS, Mo. — Some shy away from the spotlight. Marcus Stroman can be found where the light is brightest, flashing a big smile.

Ask the 24-year-old Jays right-hander about the difference between the regular season and the playoffs and he cites the intensity.

"Everything is amped up times a hundred, you know what I mean?" the sophomore major-leaguer said Friday prior to Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals. "So every pitch feels like it's 3-2, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. And the crowd plays a large part into that.

"I love it, I love it," he repeated. "I love every pitch being 3-2, bottom of the ninth, two outs. It's very emotional. Just as long as you can keep your emotions in check and use it for the right reasons, it's an extremely fun atmosphere to play in."

Stroman is in line to pitch Game 7 Saturday if David Price can lead Toronto there. Stroman had no doubts his services would be needed.

"It's Game 6, we have David Price on the mound, 100 per cent confidence in him to get it done," he said.

Manager John Gibbons was just as upbeat before Friday's contest, Toronto's fifth must-win game of the post-season, telling reporters he felt great.

"We've been here before," he added. 

Stroman met reporters Friday with a Blue Jays cap on his head and another cap on the table in front of him with HDMH on the front.

It stands for Height Doesn't Measure Heart, which has been a rallying cry for the five-foot-eight Stroman.

"It's just kind of something I started saying probably freshman year of college (at Duke)," he said. "I knew there were stereotypes out there and a bunch of people doubting me based on my physical stature. So it's just a phrase I came up with in my head and started saying ever since."

He has HDMH trademarked on both sides of the border.

"There'll definitely be something in the works in the near future. It's my brand, it's something I've always wanted to do," he said.

Stroman has had a remarkable season, returning in September ahead of schedule from spring training knee surgery. He has not lost since, going 4-0 in the regular season and 1-0 in the playoffs.

"This still feels like a dream to me, now. Still feels like I haven't woke up this entire summer. And everything has worked out perfectly. (I'm) just thankful for every single person I've had in my corner along the way and anyone who's helped me get here. It's been truly special."

He has pitched in big games and not disappointed. He started the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS against Texas and helped turn the tide in Game 3 of the ALCS.

"It seems like every time we've turned around, here's Stroman. Here comes Stroman," said Gibbons. "If we win tonight, here he is again in a key moment."  

Anticipating a win Friday, Stroman declared himself ready for another close-up.

"Game 7 of the ALCS, there's no place I'd rather be. I'm ready," he said. 

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press